Twitter will ban users from spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and covid-19 vaccines under a new five-attack system, according to a new blog post from the social media company. Twitter prohibits all medical information that is “demonstrably false or misleading and that may carry a significant risk of harm.”
“By using the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content violates our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and its impact on the public conversation,” wrote the Twitter Safety Team in Monday.
“People will be notified directly when a tag or required removal of a Tweet results in an additional application at the account level. Repeated violations of the COVID-19 policy are imposed based on the number of strikes an account has accumulated for violations of the policy, ”the blog post continued.
Twitter’s five strike policy will apply starting today, as the company explains:
- A warning: no action at the account level
- Two caveats: 12 hour account lockout
- Three caveats: 12 hour account lockout
- Four Notices – 7 Day Account Lockdown
- Five or more strikes: permanent suspension
Twitter’s new five-strike policy comes after the company announced in December that it would take further action to “protect the public conversation” around covid-19, a disease that has infected more than 28.6 million Americans. and has killed more than 516,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Twitter says it has removed more than 8,400 covid-19 misinformation tweets since December and the company will use both human moderators and machines to track tweets that violate Twitter rules.
“Machine learning and automated language processing take time to be effective. As such, we will start with content in English first and use this same process as we work to expand into other languages and cultural contexts over time, ”Twitter said in its blog post Monday.
Platforms like YouTube have used “strike” systems as a way to regulate behavior by making sure people understand the rules they have broken and are given fair warning before being banished for good.
One of the main criticisms of Facebook and Twitter over the years has been the lack of transparency around why certain users have been banned and others have not. For example, David Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard, was allowed to stay on the platform for 11 years before it was finally banned. And it’s unclear what ultimately did.
Vaccines are currently being distributed to millions of Americans, raising hope that life will soon return to normal, or some version of normal that looks something like the year 2019, before the pandemic. About 15% of Americans have received at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccine, according to NPR, a tremendously positive sign for the future.
Will Twitter implement something like a five-strike policy for other breaches beyond covid-19 disinformation? That part is not clear. But, if you ask us, it’s a great idea.